View Count: 113 |  Publish Date: September 01, 2013
Phil Anastasia: What's in a name? Here's what
Phil Anastasia, Inquirer Columnist Posted: Sunday, September 1, 2013, 3:01 AM
The Colonial Conference has history, tradition, continuity - and some of the best nicknames in South Jersey sports.
The Green Wave, the Thundering Herd, the Silver Knights, the Garnets - the grand old affiliation of small-school, neighborhood rivals has all but cornered the market on the top nickname/color schemes in the area.
But there are challengers.
On the brink of another school year, heres one view of the best of South Jersey sports when it comes to nicknames and color combinations:
(By the way, New Egypt could have won this race going away when the small school in Ocean County that competes in the Burlington County League opened a few years ago, and announced its teams would be known as the Warriors.
If it had gone with Pharaohs, everybody else would be playing for second place.)
The Counterintuitives
Whats up with the Moorestown Quakers and St. Augustine Prep Hermits?
First of all, Moorestown is a public school with a nickname after a religious group.
What happened to separation of church and state?
Also, Quakers are supposed to be devoted to peaceful principles, which sounds great and all but doesnt seem as if it would compute to success in sports.
And a hermit is a person living in solitude, usually as a religious discipline.
Again, great for quiet reflection and self-awareness but not exactly a team-first concept.
But its the twist that works for both of these schools, which feature two of the better sports programs in the state.
Moorestown gets extra points for a classically cool color combination of black and gold.
Here Kitty, Kitty
The folks who named South Jersey sports teams must have been cat people.
There are six Panthers (Camden, Collingswood, Middle Township, Palmyra, Pitman, Westampton Tech), three Lions (Cherry Hill West, Gloucester, Lindenwold), two Cougars (Cherry Hill East, Schalick), two Tigers (Woodrow Wilson, Lower Cape May), two Wildcats (Maple Shade, St. Joseph), a Jaguar (Medford Tech), and a Cheetah (GCIT).
Woodrow Wilson, Pitman, and Middle Township get extra credit for their orange-and-black color combination.
That combo always reminds me of Halloween and also of dipping Spiced Wafers in my coffee.
But Camden stands alone in this category.
First, no band plays longer or works harder than the Mighty Marching Panthers, who go for four quarters without a break during football games, and rock the house at halftime.
Also, Camdens purple-and-gold color scheme is something special.
In fact, Camden used to be known as the Purple Avalanche, which would overrun this competition like Clarence Turners old basketball teams playing somebodys JV.
One of the best things about Camden basketball in the 1970s and 1980s was watching the Panthers hit the court with five guys wearing purple warm-ups (tops and pants), five guys wearing gold warm-ups, and five guys wearing white warm-ups.
That was intimidating to many an opponent - although the presence of four 6-foot-8 guys who could dunk was a factor there, too.
Horses and Riders
There are three Crusaders (Bishop Eustace, Delsea, Wildwood Catholic), two Mustangs (Mainland, Triton), one Lancer (Holy Cross), one Charger (Timber Creek), and one Silver Knight (Sterling).
Mainland gets extra credit for often shortening its nickname to Stangs - as in "What years your Stang, man?" which is what surfer dudes ask travelers who rent Ford Mustangs in San Diego.
Also, Mainland plays in the "Mustang Corral," an awesome place to watch a football game on a Friday night.
No Cowboys
But there are two Indians (Lenape, Pennsauken), two Chiefs (Buena, Cherokee), two Braves (Absegami and Williamstown), three Warriors (Gloucester Tech, New Egypt, Wildwood), and one Renegade (Shawnee).
Lets give a nod to Shawnee, because Renegades is a nice nickname, and a double nod to Cherokee, because brown-and-orange is a snazzy color combination. Its a special scene on Friday nights in Marlton, watching those orange helmets come down the hill toward the Cherokee football stadium.
Fly, Eagles, Fly
The two most popular nicknames are Panthers and Eagles.
Six teams are named after the bird (Egg Harbor Township, Paul VI, Pennsville, Seneca, West Deptford, Winslow Township).
Egg Harbor gets bonus points for its black-and-silver colors, and Seneca went the extra mile and named its teams the "Golden Eagles" when everybody thought it would stick with the Native American theme in the Lenape district.
The Top Ten
10. Vineland Fighting Clan. Only teams named after an angry brood of chickens.
9. Millville Thunderbolts. Theres a little Hammer of Thor in there, a little weather, a little nod to the airplanes they used to make in Cumberland County for the war effort. Also, Mike Trout was a Millville Thunderbolt.
8. Haddon Heights Garnets. Is it a gemstone? Is it a color? Like Razzles, its both.
7. Sterling Silver Knights. A classic look with clean lines and a strong color combination of royal blue and silver.
6. Willingboro Chimeras. These are the only teams named after a fire-breathing female monster from Greek mythology with a lions head, goats body, and serpents tale. But you knew that.
5. Kingsway Dragons. Another fire-breathing, mythical creature. The only ones in South Jersey and backed by a rock-solid, black-and-red color scheme.
4. Moorestown Friends Foxes. If you can get the 1974 song "Fox on the Run" by the British glam-rock band Sweet out of your head, it works even better.
3. Woodstown Wolverines. The X-Mens favorite teams. Plus, their baseball team plays "Woodie Ball."
2. Woodbury Thundering Herd. Galloping, storming, stampeding - it connotes strength in numbers. As a bonus, on Saturdays in the fall, you can sit in that terrific old stadium and hear the public address announcer bellow, "First and 10, the Herd!"
1. Audubon Green Wave. The green-and-gold color combination is the best kind of old school, especially with the stripes on the shoulders. Its so retro its fresh.
And that was pure inspiration to name the teams after a perpetual force of nature - a timeless assault that links the past, present, and future - so identifiable with South Jersey.
Contact Phil Anastasia
at Follow on Twitter @PhilAnastasia. Read his blog,
"Jersey Side Sports,"
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